Powered by Jitbit .Net Forum free trial version.

HomeFallen London » The Bazaar

This is the place to discuss playing the game. Find tips, debate the best places to find certain items and share advice.

Dev blog: Insights into the Fallen London redesign Messages in this topic - RSS

FailbetterFuzz
FailbetterFuzz
Administrator
Posts: 194

6/5/2018
Hello delicious friends,

I want to share some insights on the development of the Fallen London redesign with you. I've seen a lot of comments and questions on the forums which made me realise it'd be good to share some insider info on why we've made certain decisions, as well as what to expect in the future.

Get yourself a brew, sit back and relax. This is going to be long but I hope you'll enjoy it, or at least find it informative. If you’d just like a quick summary of the redesign check out our FAQ and blog post. If you’ve found a bug you want to report then please send it to fallenlondonredesign@failbettergames.com.


Origins of the Fallen London redesign

First, a bit of context. We actually began work on making the website responsive on mobile long before we started work on the app. Our aim was to make one responsive site that offered a great experience no matter what hardware it was played on, and of course allow the game to be accessible on the move. We then changed tack and decided to make the app as a separate beast. As we've explained in our blog, it was not all we wanted it to be so it has been laid to rest.



Some of you have noted how we've made the game look like the app, the irony being that the app actually looked like the original redesign we had planned and intended for Fallen London all along.

The redesign might just look like a visual reskin, but it's far more than that. As you know we're now using HTTPS to make it more secure. Due to its responsive elements there have also been a lot of changes to the tech under the hood, and this has resulted in a lot of unexpected bugs.

Throughout the two closed betas and now the open one, I've seen a lot of you wondering “why on earth did Failbetter decide to change X”. The reality is that probably 70% of the time it was not a deliberate design decision, it was in fact a feature not working quite as it should. The redesign has been a big project and more work than our little team expected.


The dev team

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we are a really tiny team and only a couple of us have been working on the redesign. The dev team is probably much smaller than you realise.

Towards the end of 2017 two of our developers began work on the redesign full time. At the start of this year that number dropped to one. I was brought on as the team’s tester in January but only in a very part time capacity because of the volume of Sunless Skies work. My time spent on the redesign has drastically increased in recent months, but Sunless Skies still dominates.

In April we also took on a part-time contract developer to help. This amazing programmer, Séamus Ó Buadhacháin, is actually a member of the Fallen London community. Not only is he a delight to work with, but his perspective as both a player and developer in terms of informed usability changes has been invaluable. Séamus will continue to work with us after launch so we can get the site exactly how we want it.

The work we’ve done to get this far with such a small team has been phenomenal, and we are super proud of how the site looks. It’s not perfect yet, it’s not totally finished, but we feel it’s ready to put in front of you.


Why we’ve changed the look of the game

Fallen London is beautiful but old - we’ve not really changed its look since it was released eight years ago. We know that’s part of its charm and adds to the atmosphere, but we felt it really needed a new lick of paint.

For the game’s long-term health and future, we need to modernise the aesthetics. We want it to be fresh and accessible to all, particularly to new players. Fallen London is a large and complex game - the cramped interface can be hard on the eyes, and the Myself page can be overwhelming, especially for non-veterans.

We also wanted to modernise in the sense of responsiveness across different platforms. We want you to be able to play it from the comfort of your home computer and on your mobile during your morning commute. However, we want to work on and maintain just one product. No PC version. No mobile version. Just one all-singing, all-dancing site that works for everyone. This is why the site goes into responsive mode at a width of 1199 pixels; there are a number of stages as shown in the GIF below.



You can play in full responsive mode at 767 pixels, but the site will still recognise that you are on a non-touch screen device and will give you tooltips on mouseover. Once on a touch screen device however, you then have to tap elements to display their tooltips.

Growing our audience and giving Fallen London a wider appeal is important to us, but our most important consideration is you: our existing community. We know change can be hard, so we wanted to minimise the impact of what is, visually, a huge update. We also want to make the game more user-friendly. We’re not totally there yet, but this is where the redesign’s journey really starts.


Listening to feedback

Throughout development we’ve run two closed betas to help find bugs and gather feedback. The response from our testers was fabulous, and sifting through the feedback was an overwhelming task. We’ve learned you are delightfully opinionated and proper little min-maxers, who are intolerant of grinding inefficiencies. It has been wonderful and enlightening!

A moment of personal pride for me was when I read comments on the forums from some of our beta testers, telling the wider community how well we’ve listened to feedback, and how many changes we’ve made as a result. It’s important to us that you know we listen to your feedback. We may not always act on it, and if we don’t there are good reasons, but we do listen.

The first incarnation of the redesign didn’t have the action candles. I knew you’d all be very unhappy with this and didn’t want an angry mob turning up at FBG HQ for a real-life session of Knife-and-Candle! So I insisted they went back in. After that we thought we’d got everything pretty spot on. But the two betas we ran showed that we were off the mark on a number of points. Here are some examples:

In order to save space on the Possessions page we imported the equipment selection scroll bar from the app. We thought it was a nice snazzy feature.



Our first closed beta was tiny, but the hatred of this feature was unanimous. Sure it saved space, but we’d not taken into consideration that a player may want to quickly find and compare Companions for example, to see which one is best for a task. The new scroll bar meant having to go back and forth constantly and never having a general overview of all your items. It was nuked and we saw the return of the full equipment lists.




We also wanted to make the sidebar much easier to read, more compact and less intimidating to new players. As well as resizing the icons and progress bars we removed the second chances. After all, you know if you’ve got an appropriate second chance by whether or not you can tick the check box on the branch right?

-------->

From feedback we learned that knowing how many second chances you have in total may actually affect your decision on whether or not to play the branch at all. We are very firm on our decision of removing the second chances from the sidebar, they will not be returning. So instead we’ve included second chance information within the card itself. We hope this is a good compromise.



Then there was the funky little flip animation we added to the opportunity deck. We thought it was beautiful. It managed to make half our beta testers nauseous and drove the rest mad with the frustration of having to wait for it to finish loading. It is now resting in peace next to the app.



I could go on and on about the changes we’ve made, but there’s not enough Darkdrop Coffee in the whole of the Neath to keep you awake for it.


Changes that are here to stay

Some changes are here to stay, even if they are not universally loved. The icons are a big case in point. We have changed their size to make things easier for development. We also wanted to make clear the distinction between a Status and a Thing, particularly since they are now split between the Myself and the new Possessions page. We did this in the app with square and circular icons respectively, and we’ve incorporated it into the redesign. However, the circular icons haven’t gone down well because of the amount of art that can be cut off.



We’ve made a compromise with rounded corners for Status qualities, a suggestion that came directly from the community. They are still not popular, but the distinction is important to us and they are here to stay.



Similarly we have removed the refresh on clicking the Story tab. This is related to the load on our servers. A lot of players miss this feature and we will review it, but we need to consider the technical implications with this one, so we make no promises as to its return.

We’ve also seen much talk about the amount of blank space on story cards. We want to keep a sense of space and make the site feel less overcrowded, but we know that’s introduced more scrolling. We will continue to tweak this until we find a happy medium, so you’re not having to scroll quite as much.

Related to this is the Fate page. We’ll be looking at a way to organise the Fate page and therefore reduce scrolling. However it’s not a quick fix and will require some thought on our part before changes are implemented.


What the future holds

As I said before, there are only a few of us working on the project, and some of us only part-time. There’s still a lot to be done. Everything from new features to feedback changes to bug fixes has to be prioritised; this means we are launching with a number of minor bugs and features not yet complete. And the reality of development does mean that not every feature request will be implemented, sometimes because we just don’t have the bandwidth, but always for very good reasons.

There is also the chance that come launch day we’ll see some major bugs rear their ugly heads. There may be things we’ve missed and didn’t take into account. Fallen London is a very complex beast that’s evolved organically over eight years, after all.

As we switch over to the new site on the 5th June we enter a period of live development, and you, our awesome community, become part of the dev team. We know bugs are frustrating, but they are to be expected on such a huge project. All we ask is that you please be patient with us. You can help us by reporting any bugs you encounter to fallenlondonredesign@failbettergames.com. We will prioritise all incoming reports, and fix issues on the fly over the coming weeks and months.

We expect a lot of quirks to be seen on different phones and tablets, especially older devices and out-of-date operating systems. Our testing lab is very modest and that’s one of the reasons our closed betas focused on mobile. Keep reporting things to us and we’ll keep tweaking what we can.

Our promise to you is that all bugs will be fixed and we will continue to improve the site in terms of performance and usability. Thank you in advance for your patience, and well done if you got this far!


edited by FailbetterFuzz on 6/5/2018
+12 link
Jason5237
Jason5237
Posts: 220

6/5/2018
Lesleyann - this was an interesting read and greatly appreciated; thank you! I was part of the second beta wave on mobile, so it's interesting to see what had evolved prior to (and why), and now enjoy what has evolved since.

J-
0 link
RyanGannon
RyanGannon
Posts: 3

6/5/2018
I don't know if this is to be expected but I'm still seeing the original version.
0 link
Μαρσ
Μαρσ
Posts: 29

6/5/2018
RyanGannon wrote:
I don't know if this is to be expected but I'm still seeing the original version.

Maybe this is because fallenlondon.com redirects to storynexus (I guess that was useful before the new site was there), while www.fallenlondon.com is the link to the new version. The www is needed. I hope/expect they change this soon.

--
🦇🐀🐈🎩
Feel free to invite me for any kind of social action.

Profile:
Μαρσ
+3 link
xKiv
xKiv
Posts: 793

6/5/2018
RyanGannon wrote:
I don't know if this is to be expected but I'm still seeing the original version.


Are you on fallenlondon.storynexus.com? According to the blog post, they are doing a staggered deployment, with www.fallenlondon.com today and fallenlondon.storynexus.com tommorrow.

Μαρσ wrote:
Maybe this is because fallenlondon.com redirects to storynexus (I guess that was useful before the new site was there), while www.fallenlondon.com is the link to the new version. The www is needed. I hope/expect they change this soon.


Aha! Well, that should get sorted out within a day. Even though the redirect will probably stay.

--
https://www.fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/xKiv - a witchful, percussive, dangermous and shadowry scholar of coexplodence, hopsidirean, and walker of fallen kitties.
+2 link
RyanGannon
RyanGannon
Posts: 3

6/5/2018
Μαρσ wrote:
RyanGannon wrote:
I don't know if this is to be expected but I'm still seeing the original version.

Maybe this is because fallenlondon.com redirects to storynexus (I guess that was useful before the new site was there), while www.fallenlondon.com is the link to the new version. The www is needed. I hope/expect they change this soon.

That's it alright.
0 link
Kade Carrion (an_ocelot)
Kade Carrion (an_ocelot)
Posts: 1368

6/5/2018
Μαρσ wrote:

Maybe this is because fallenlondon.com redirects to storynexus (I guess that was useful before the new site was there), while www.fallenlondon.com is the link to the new version. The www is needed. I hope/expect they change this soon.

Ah! I didn't realize about the www, thank you so much -- I was eager to see the new site and couldn't figure out why I was being redirected!

--
Social Actions: send them to Kade Carrion (she/her; no Tournament of Lilies, please). an_ocelot has gone NORTH and cannot benefit from social actions!

Possibly-Useful Things: Spreadsheets and hints and link collections, oh my.
0 link
Dudebro Pyro
Dudebro Pyro
Posts: 606

6/5/2018
Out of curiosity, is there any difference between beta.fallenlondon.com and www.fallenlondon.com?

--
Dudebro Pyro, eccentric scholar

Spare Starveling Kitties always welcome. I collect them.
For that matter, send me your unwanted cat boxes too.
0 link
Jason5237
Jason5237
Posts: 220

6/5/2018
Should be the same with the beta site phased out just like the storynexus site.
0 link
Kaijyuu
Kaijyuu
Posts: 1007

6/6/2018
I see that GIF showing off the resizing window; is there any way that the main area could stretch indefinitely left and right? That seems like it would solve a lot of the vertical space issues in things like the possessions tab for those of us with widescreen monitors. Displaying ~16 equipment items per row seems a lot better than the 6 equipment items per row that is displayed right now.
edited by Kaijyuu on 6/6/2018

--
Be of good cheer. Our contacts have assured us that your sins are forgiven.
0 link
Lady Sapho Byron
Lady Sapho Byron
Posts: 642

6/8/2018
Thank you for taking the time to explain the thought processes behind your redesign decisions!

--
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Lady%20Sapho%20L%20Byron
Fighting the Menace of Corsetry Since 1892.
0 link




Powered by Jitbit Forum 8.0.2.0 © 2006-2013 Jitbit Software